In 2012, under threat from fundamentalist rebels, a team of archivists, librarians, and couriers evacuated an irreplaceable trove of manuscripts from Timbuktu at great personal risk. The manuscripts have been saved from immediate destruction, but the danger is not over. A massive archival effort is needed to protect this immense global heritage from loss.
THE STORY OF THE MANUSCRIPTS IS NOT OVER! ******************************************
Thank you all our Indiegogo friends. Your efforts are helping to preserve a priceless heritage for the entire world. OUR WORK IS NOT DONE! The danger to the manuscripts is still urgent. To learn more about how we are continuing our efforts and to contribute, visit our web site at http://t160k.org and follow us on Twitter @T160k.
We will continue to keep you informed of how your contributions are helping to preserve the manuscripts. Sorry, we cannot offer Indiegogo perks now that the crowdfunding campaign is over.
Abdel Kader Haidara has been steward of his family's library since age 17
Though removed from immediate threat, the manuscripts are still jam packed in footlockers used for their evacuation and the current environment of this precious world heritage is significantly more humid than Timbuktu. There are already signs of damage and exposure to moisture.
The purpose of this campaign is to fund the preservation effort required to store the manuscripts in an archival, moisture-resistant manner during their exile from Timbuktu. If physical harm from the current packing situation continues and if mold and mildew spread in the corpus due to increased humidity, the damage will be devastating.
Timbuktu is a traditional center of peace, learning, and scholarship
By contributing, you are directly funding the archival materials and labor required to save these works. In recognition of your support, we can ensure that your name or a personal dedication will be associated with these works in perpetuity, and we will provide you with a token of your contribution to keep as an enduring memento.
This is a legacy that will continue to enrich our world, with the potential to advance the causes of peace and good governance in Africa and the world for generations.
About the Libraries in Exile Project
Libraries in Exile is sponsored by T160K, an international initiative forged in the evacuation of these treasures from Timbuktu and dedicated to protecting and preserving them until they can be returned to their home. It is the center of a growing global family who have pledged to this urgent effort.
Funds contributed to this project will be used to purchase moisture traps, archival boxes, and the additional footlockers required to safely store these manuscripts, as well as to cover the significant labor effort required to unbox and re-pack the manuscripts for preservation.
Tamasheq craftsmen learning book and paper conservation
How your contribution makes a difference
There are over 300,000 unique manuscripts to be saved. We know this is an immense task, but remember that each $30 contribution means the rescue of another irreplaceable treasure.
The corpus of manuscripts is incredibly varied and beautiful
All supporters will receive a personalized digital certificate symbolizing your participation in this great adventure suitable for high-resolution printing and framing. You will also be listed as a supporter on the T160K web site.
A contribution of $30 pays the materials and labor costs required to preserve a single manuscript wrapped in a protective moisture trap and stored in its own archival box. These are objects of amazing beauty and represent a tangible benefit to all of humankind. All supporters at $30 and higher will have a personal dedication and a small photo affixed to the box of the manuscripts they helped save, a permanent legacy to your contribution.
In addition, any backer may add to their pledge, in increments of $30, and we will add their dedication to more manuscripts boxes as more are preserved.
Every $30 contributed is another manuscript preserved
Master photographer and long-time student of Timbuktu Joseph Hunwick is donating five beautiful large-size photographic prints of Timbuktu and the manuscripts to our campaign! These are avaialble as perks at the $500 level. The prints are gorgeously printed by the photographer using archival inks and museum-quality paper.
With contribution of $1000 we will send you a collection of high-quality archival 8x10 prints of photos in our collection. You can see several of these photos on this page and in the campaign gallery.
We are able to offer a limited number of original illuminated artworks featuring calligraphy by a Timbuktu craftsman using techniques and materials similar to those used to create the manuscripts. We will discuss your art selection with you. It may be a selection from one of the libraries or something of personal meaning to you.
To preserve an entire footlocker, including the materials and labor, is a commitment that not everybody can bear, but if you have this ability and feel the call to help, your contribution will pay for the full costs and materials to preserve the contents of one of the footlockers evacuated from Timbuktu. Each footlocker contains 300 manuscripts on average. This represents a significant legacy for future culture and scholarship. We thank you. If you are able to support us at this level, we will also send you a selection of photo prints from our collection and a personal letter of thanks.
We are also able to offer a limited number of Skype conversations, personal conversations, and speaking engagements with Stephanie Diakité who has been personally involved with the preservation and evacuation efforts.
Finally, we can offer an amazing adventure--the opportunity to visit the manuscripts in person in Mali. This entails some risk in the current political situation. We will need to vett you for security purposes and you will be required to sign a waiver and cover your own travel expenses.
And anybody can contribute by spreading the word and telling others about the work we are doing.
The libraries of Timbuktu
The corpus of Timbuktu dates back for generations, with numerous private libraries that have been handed down from generation to generation for over 700 years, creating a record of commerce, poetry, scholarship, law, and everyday life that has undiminished power to teach and inspire today. The libraries include manuscripts form Andalusia and Southern Europe, Arabia, Egypt, the Arab trading ports on the Indian Ocean, and Morocco and other centers of medieval learning, as well as the region of Timbuktu itself. Timbuktu is a traditional crossroads of culture and has played a peacekeeper role in the region. The manuscripts chronicle this role. They represent an astounding diversity of topics and authors, including a significant number of women’s voices.
A book of genealogy
A cultural heritage of this magnitude has incredible power to bring people together. We saw this power when people from all walks of life, whole villages, and speakers of every language in the region gave their time and effort, even under considerable risk, to help us evacuate them to the south. We believe that securing these manuscripts is a positive step towards a process of enduring peace and a reduced toll of human misery for this entire region.
Other Ways You Can Help
Not everyone can give monetarily as much as they would like, but you can still contribute. Please help us support this project by spreading the word about this campaign, sharing it using the Indiegogo sharing tools, and telling others the story of the libraries of Timbuktu. We can also use volunteers to help get the word out about our work. Please visit our web site at http://T160K.org/ if you would like to register to volunteer.
Thank You, Corporate Sponsors
Creekside Digital: Top-Quality Scanning of Books, Newspapers & Microfilm
In the Press
Spiegel Online, Vor Islamisten gerettet, vom Schimmel bedroht
The HuffingtonPost, France, Trésor culturel en péril: sauvons les manuscrits de Tombouctou
Christian Science Monitor, 'Libraries in Exile' fights to save priceless manuscripts in Mali
The Guardian Books, Librarians in Exile Group Launches Appeal to Save Timbuktu Manuscripts
University of Oregon Video, “Stephanie Diakité – “The Evacuation of the Timbuktu Manuscripts and Their Life in Exile: The Work of T160K”
Frequently Asked Questions
The Indiegogo campaign is over. Can I still contribute?
We are still actively seeking contributions to preserve the manuscripts. Visit our web site at t160k.org to learn more. Unfortunately, we cannot offer Indiegogo perks now that the campaign is over. We are urgently working to fulfill all the requests and ship the much-needed materials to Mali.
Is my contribution tax deductible? By choice our work does not have tax exempt status anywhere except in Mali. This means that we will pay taxes on contributions made outside Mali and that people who kindly contribute to our work from outside Mali cannot claim a tax deduction for their financial contributions.
How does the illuminated manuscripts giveaway work? For our last week on Indiegogo we’re giving away one of our unclaimed high-level perks to one supporter: an original, customized piece of illuminated art. This art will be created using generational techniques by a Malian craftsman living in exile like the manuscripts. To participate, you must contribute to this campaign at the $30 level or higher and share your dedication or a message of support on a social media site with the #T160K tag. On Facebook, simply like and share our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/T160k) with the #T160K hashtag. If you’re sharing on another network, please email us at email@example.com and let us know where so we can add you to the list. People employed by T160K, campaign volunteers, or individuals working directly with us on this campaign or their families are not eligible to receive this reward. We will select one person at random to receive the reward. ABOUT THE REWARD: you will receive a hand-made piece of illuminated calligraphy on a theme of your choice drawn from the content of the manuscripts themselves. We will work with you to select your theme and a suitable excerpt.
I want to help! We can always use your help! To volunteer your time or expertise, please register through our web site http://T160K.org/.
Can I feature your story in my blog or publication? Absolutely! We have a collection of images and information that you can use on our web site. Please feel free to contact us as well if we can help in any way.
Are you available for interviews? There has already been a lot of interest from the press in this project, and we are happy to help out in any way. Send us a message, and we’ll respond to you right away.
What does T160k mean? Early in the evacuation, when there was little help coming from outside Timbuktu, a timely contribution from an unexpected donor enabled us to save the first 160,000 manuscripts. We named our initiative in memory of that event: T for Timbuktu, 160k for the first 160,000 manuscripts.
Are there any plans to digitize these manuscripts? Efforts to digitize the manuscripts have been ongoing, but they have been interrupted by the current violent uprising. The manuscripts are composed of extremely fragile papers and unstable ferrous inks which literally burn when exposed to traditional "hot light" scanning processes. A significant number of manuscripts have already been scanned using cold circuit photography. It’s our dream to provide for the long-term preservation and digitization of these manuscripts once they are out of immediately danger.
Have the manuscripts been removed from Mali? The manuscripts currently reside in Mali, where they have resided for 700 or more years, and we believe they should remain there. Everything possible will be done to ensure this.
What proportion of the funds collected is going to preservation and how are they being managed? Funds donated to this campaign will go directly to covering materials and labor costs associated with preservation, minus the amount required to cover required Indiegogo and PayPal fees as well as the fulfillment of the contributor perks described above. We project fulfillment costs to be 10% of the total funds collected or less. We are paying a fixed fee for assistance in fund raising and no part of the funds collected for this campaign are going to the fund raiser. Abdel Kader Haidara and Stephanie Diakité and their respective organizations will be managing the funds to ensure that the preservation effort uses them as effectively as possible and to the highest standards.
Why are you using crowdfunding to fund this need? The need to preserve the manuscripts is urgent. We can’t wait for governments and organizations with deep pockets to respond to this need. It is through the efforts of ordinary people that the manuscripts have been preserved this long, and that they have survived the violence affecting Mali today. Crowdfunding is enabling of participation and we believe this is a key to the sustainable safeguarding of the manuscripts. Organizations that wish to partner with us in this effort should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who is T160K? We are dedicated to the protection, preservation and study of the ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu. Our long-term vision is the return of the manuscripts to their home in Timbuktu and to apply the vast knowledge they contain to the peace process in Mali and in other places in Africa. T160K was co-founded by Stephanie Diakité, JC-JD/MBA/Phd and Abdel Kader Haidara.
Stephanie Diakité, JC-JD/MBA/Phd is a jurist and a poverty eradication institutional development specialist working in more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa through her firm, D intl (see http://dintlafrica.com/) and a book artist and book and paper conservation specialist.
Abdel Kader Haidara is the generational curator of one of the most important libraries of manuscripts in Timbuktu and founder of SAVAMA DCI (see http://www.savamadci.net), an association of private Timbuktu libraries committed to public access.
For more information, visit our web site: http://T160K.org/.
A treatise on music
A treatise on mathematics
A treatise on astronomy
Some of the footlockers that are the current home of the manuscripts
All imagery courtesy of dintl except where noted otherwise.